Integrity Legal

20th Sep 2009

US Visa Thailand: The E2 Visa

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The E2 visa is a special non-immigrant visa available to prospective investors who are also citizens of countries with a trade or commercial treaty with the United States of America. Citizens of the Kingdom of Thailand can apply for E2 visa status as the United States and the Kingdom of Thailand, at the time of this writing, maintain a Treaty of Amity and Commerce.

In order to qualify for an E2 visa the applicant must invest a “substantial amount” of money into the American economy in the form of a business venture. Although not specifically defined in the statutes or treaties, the term “substantial amount” has been largely left to be determined by the Consular officers posted at the US Embassy or Consulate where the visa application is being submitted. Although information regarding the necessary amount of money varies, a minimum investment of at least one hundred thousand dollars should be available for investment before a prospective applicant should contemplate submitting an application. That being said, the investment will be viewed in relation to the overall enterprise. As a result, a one hundred thousand dollar investment may be viewed as substantial if one is setting up a small restaurant in a region with a relatively low cost of living. However, that same amount of money will probably not be viewed as “substantial” if one is seeking to undertake the construction of a shopping mall in a heavily urban area. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service utilizes an ‘Inverted Sliding Scale’ in order to make determinations as to whether or not the underlying investment should be considered “substantial” in relation to the total cost of the economic endeavor.

Another issue that must be considered when discussing the E2 visa is the fact that the business investment ought to create employment opportunities for American Citizens. Although it is probably more desirable to hire American workers before the submission of the E2 application. Providing evidence that employment opportunities will come about in the reasonably foreseeable  future is usually sufficient for approval of at least the initial application.
Another visa category that is generally of interest to those researching the E2 is the L1 visa. The L1 visa is a non-immigrant visa category that employs the dual intent doctrine to allow foreign employees of an international company to transfer to a US-based affiliate for the purpose of carrying out business activity in the United States. In some cases, an already established foreign corporation will wish to establish a presence in the United States. In order to staff the new company, foreign managers and executives will need travel documents to travel and work in the United States.

For related information please see our page on the establishment of an Amity Treaty Company

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